Apple tree care done right

Apples are among the most popular types of fruit and what could be more obvious than growing the classic in your own garden? The plant genus Malus includes about fifty different species, including the apple (Malus domestica). The cultivated apple can be found all over the world and is grown in plantations, orchards, but also in home gardens.

Breeding has resulted in a large number of varieties that differ in terms of fruit size, taste, ripening time or growth habit. Basically, the fruit tree requires little care, but with targeted pruning, the yield can be increased and the tree health promoted. It is therefore important that you think carefully about the location before you buy it and then cut it regularly, remove superfluous branches and only fertilize moderately. Apple tree care has an impact on the vitamin content of the fruit. You can find out everything you need to know about apple tree care in this article.

Useful information LocationPlanting Care Watering Fertilizing PruningGrowth Pests & Diseases FAQ

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Interesting facts about the apple tree

Botanical name: Malus domestica
Other names: pome fruit
Use: tree for orchards, small gardens and house gardens, ideal for solitary plant, as a plant for insects, fruit for processing into juice, puree, tea and direct consumption
Origin: Central and western Asia
Flower colours: light pink, white, red
Leaves: dark green, oval, felt-like hairs on both sides, the leaf edges curve upwards
Special features: the fruit tree can get quite old if it is cared for properly. Apples are rich in vitamin C and have a high fiber content.

In which location does the apple tree feel most comfortable?

A sunny spot with humus-rich conditions is ideal for the fruit tree. But the location can also be bright and partially shaded. Basically, however, the following applies: the more sun, the more flowers and leaves can be formed. It is important that the soil is moist but well drained, because waterlogging is not tolerated. The frugal plant species also produces a considerable number of apples in a less fertile and dry location. The right location and sufficient sunlight are essential factors for a rich harvest. The pH of the soil should be between 6 and 7.

Professional knowledge: For a rich yield, it is important that the right pollen is available at the time of flowering. This can be another apple tree or an ornamental apple. Make sure there is a pollinator variety nearby.

How do I plant my apple tree in the garden?

In principle, young fruit trees (special container plants) can be planted out in the garden all year round, provided the ground is not frozen. It is best if you plant from February to November. The best planting times are September/October and March/April.

Instructions for planting:

  • Before planting, loosen the soil thoroughly and free it from weeds.
  • Water the shrub thoroughly before planting.
  • Dig a planting hole that is at least one and a half times as deep and wide as the root ball.
  • Loosen the soil in the planting hole with a digging fork and add 2 to 3 handfuls of potting soil to the planting hole.
  • Put root power, the organic natural fertilizer and soil activator, in the planting hole.
  • Then place the potted plant upright in the planting hole and fill in the free space with a mixture of potting soil and excavation.
  • Finally, step on the potting soil with your foot to close the existing cavities.
  • Finally pour in 15 to 20 liters.
  • Depending on the substrate and growth form, a wooden post must be attached to hold it.
  • If you plant several trees, please make sure that there is sufficient distance between them.
  • To protect against evaporation and to improve the soil, you can cover the freshly planted apple tree with a layer of ripe compost.

Finally, a pruning can be carried out. Our gardening tip: When planting, make sure that the grafting point (tuber-like thickening at the base of the trunk) is approx. 5 to 10 cm above the ground. The grafting point should not be covered with soil after setting.

How do I properly care for my apple tree

Needs-based watering of the young trees in the first three years after planting is essential. Older fruit trees tolerate dry periods better. When planting new trees, it is important that the site conditions are right. So-called tree disks are helpful for the flat -rooted plant. This area around the trunk is for the young trees to grow.

Shallow chopping will aerate the area around the trunk. A thin layer of grass clippings, compost or bark mulch can then be applied. Moisture is stored better by mulching and soil life is activated. As with all trees and shrubs, the most important care measure is the formation of a light tree crown. Without pruning, the tree can grow luxuriantly in the home garden, but topiary is of great importance for juicy apples on healthy trees. Even an old apple tree can still be rejuvenated by pruning.

How do I water my apple tree properly

Newly planted trees require additional watering depending on the season, rainfall, and soil conditions. If you planted the leafless tree in autumn or spring, the need is much lower than if you planted in May. Needs-based watering is important in the first year after planting. This means that additional watering is required during phases without precipitation.

We recommend 10 to 20 liters per tree per watering. Larger amounts at a greater distance are better than frequent small waterings, because this is the only way to moisten the roots and stimulate them to grow. However, always water depending on rainfall and temperature. If your apple tree is rooted and in its 3rd or 4th year, additional watering is only necessary in phases of extreme drought or on extremely light soil.

Our gardening tip: A thin layer of perennial and rose mulch or compost reduces evaporation and weed growth. It is also recommended to sow marigolds (marigolds) or nasturtiums on the so-called tree disc.

How do I fertilize my apple tree properly

You can fertilize the fruit tree with root power directly when planting. The nutrients contained are released depending on humidity and temperature and promote growth. If the planting takes place in late summer, fertilization is only necessary in spring. We recommend annual fertilization in spring (March to May) with organic garden fertilizer and a second maintenance fertilization with organic natural fertilizer in summer (July to August).

It is important that the wood does not receive large amounts of nitrogen too late in the year, because the tree should mature in order to get through the winter well. If necessary, fertilize with Autumn Fertilizer Winter-Fit to strengthen the plants. This special fertilizer mainly contains high-quality potassium, which strengthens the plant and minimizes frost damage. Do without purely mineral fertilizers in your home garden.

By using organic-mineral fertilizers, you promote soil life and the most important nutrients are available to the fruit trees as needed. High yields are mainly due to proper pruning and not high doses of fertilizer. Fruit trees that have been fertilized too much do not produce better crops and are more susceptible to diseases.

How do I prune my apple tree?

No pruning is necessary immediately after planting. From the second year you should cut carefully. Inward-growing shoots, the older fruit wood and vertical branches are cut out. Also remove dead branches. Pruning improves apple size, coloration and fertility. Tree pruning is ideally done in early spring.

Don’t cut too late, as the branches are already full of sap from April. By removing excess branches, the crown becomes lighter and the fruit tree retains a harmonious shape. Well-ventilated canopies are less susceptible to disease. Regulate plant health naturally with pruning. Which topiary you use for your apple tree depends largely on the age and the type of training (spindle, half-stem, trellis or standard) of the fruit tree. If thicker branches are removed, a wound closure helps to promote wound healing.

Professional knowledge: When cutting, always leave one-year-old shoots. The apple tree forms buds on the two-year-old wood. It is therefore possible that the harvest will fail next year if the crop is cut too hard. After severe pruning on older trees, it can also take some time before the yield stabilizes again. You can learn how to properly prune your fruit tree with our popular pruning courses in the garden center. Make sure you’re cutting with the right tool.

What growth forms are there?

Traditionally, fruit trees are divided into three classic growth forms: bush, half-stem and standard.

Traditionally, fruit trees are divided into three classic growth forms:

    • bush
    • half stem


The fruit tree consists of a rootstock and a variety. In addition to the height of the grafting point, the rootstock is responsible for the growth form and vigour. It is important that you consider how much space you have when choosing your own apple tree. There are special dwarf forms for buckets that only grow a little. Standard trees should be planted in meadow orchards or in large plots of land. The bush is ideal for the home garden.

As a special feature there are duo and trio trees. With these special forms, different varieties were grafted onto one base. It is important that fertilization takes place within the tree.

There is also the so-called columnar apple for small gardens. This forms a vertical axis on which short shoots develop. Pillar apples require little space and will find a place in every garden.

What pests and diseases can the apple tree get?

With the right site conditions, Malus domestica are robust plants. Malnourished or weakened plants are susceptible to diseases and pests. There are no typical problems that cause major damage. Conspicuous features of the fruit can be:

codling moth:

This is a butterfly whose larva infests the apples. The butterfly is out and about laying its eggs on the leaves between May and September. After 14 days, the caterpillars hatch, which then infest the fruit with great appetite.

To prevent this, you can wrap thick branches and the trunk with so-called glue rings.


Here, too, it is a butterfly that lays eggs and the caterpillars damage the fruit. The moth is active in late summer, so the glue rings should be attached to the trees in October.


In the spring there are small brown spots on the leaves, which get bigger and bigger. A mushroom lawn can be seen on the underside. Some leaves are completely brown. Brown spots with star-shaped cracking form on the fruits. It is important that the foliage is completely removed in the event of an infestation in autumn. The choice of variety is also very important. Breeding has resulted in scab-tolerant varieties.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about the apple tree

What happens if I don’t cut the fruit trees in winter?

Even without pruning, your tree will flower and you can expect a rich harvest. However, after several years without pruning, the branches become more and more dense and there is a lack of light inside the crown. The result is that less fruit hangs on the tree and the fruit size becomes smaller and smaller. If you missed the right time and didn’t cut, you can make slight corrections with a summer cut.

What is the advantage of old varieties?

Often old varieties can be found in special regions. These varieties have developed there and have adapted perfectly to the conditions. These variants are correspondingly robust and resistant. By cultivating historical apple varieties, you are helping to ensure that regional varieties are preserved.

It was also found that old varieties are better tolerated by allergy sufferers. However, the yields are often lower and the fruit is slightly smaller than with new varieties.

When is the right time to harvest?

Depending on the apple variety, it must be harvested. A basic distinction is made between ripeness for picking and ripeness for consumption. The picking stage is reached as soon as the apple can be easily detached. Some varieties can be consumed directly, others require storage.

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